Why Wait? Couples Marrying Before Marriage Bans Overturned

ColoradoIt’s getting to the point now that each marriage equality court victory makes us say, “ugh, another one? Ho hum.” A week can’t seem to go by without our side racking up another victory.

Fortunately, the latest one has triggered some controversy that’s kept things interesting.

The Tenth Circuit ruled last week that Utah’s marriage ban violates the U. S. Constitution. By itself, that’s big big news — the first standing federal appeals court ruling against a marriage equality ban. But it’s an even bigger deal because the clerk in Boulder, Colorado saw it as an opportunity to start issuing marriage licenses. And then everyone freaked out.

(Technically, the first appeals court ruling on marriage was in the Prop 8 case. But that was later wiped out when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the court shouldn’t have heard the case in the first place.)

Immediately after the Tenth Circuit ruled in Colorado, Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall began handing out licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Now there’s a big fight brewing about just how legal that is: The state attorney general says that the licenses are invalid, the clerk says they’re just fine, and nobody’s sure who’s married and who isn’t.

Ultimately, of course, this is probably going to be a precursor to yet another marriage lawsuit. The more of those we have in the pipeline, the better: when the U. S. Supreme Court hears a marriage case (or cases) next year, it’ll be helpful to show that there’s a ton of litigation around the issue. And just about all of it has been going in our favor.